The Updike Prize for Student Type Design

"If a printer is filled with a desire to improve his output, such a collection will be of help, not merely in the production of individual pieces of work, but in broadening and improving the mental outlook which he brings to his work as a whole. If a printer does not care how his work looks, this Library willl not only be wasted on him but its implications will make him uncomfortable." - Daniel Berkeley Updike

The Daniel Berkeley Updike Collection was opened to the public in 1937, and Updike intended it to be a source of learning and inspiration to printers with a desire to elevate their craft through the study of the history of printing. The annual Updike Prize for Student Type Design was created in the same spirit, rewarding undergraduate and graduate students who make use of the Updike Collection in their creation of a new typeface or typeface family.


Applicants must conduct at least one on-site visit to use type specimens in the Updike Collection within 18 months of the application deadline, and they must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program during the time of their visit. Only one typeface family may be submitted per year, per entrant; re-submissions, especially of further refined typefaces, are encouraged. 

Applicants will retain full intellectual rights to the typefaces they submit for the competition. One use license will be granted to the Providence Public Library for promotional purposes. 


Applications will consist of three parts:

1. The application entry form [download].

2. A type specimen with a representative character set, submitted as a pdf of up to four pages and designed to be printed at either 11"x17" or 8.5”x11”.

3. A 250-500 word essay describing the typeface as well as the designer’s use of the Updike Collection and the role it played in the development of the typeface.


First Prize includes $500. Up to two runner-up prizes may also be awarded, and all finalists will receive gift certificates to Paperworks.

Names of the finalists will be recorded on the Providence Public Library's website, their specimen broadsides will be displayed in an exhibition at the library, and their typefaces will be featured in future Updike Prize promotional material. Copies of the specimen broadsides will also be added to the Updike Collection.

View previous winners here.


Applications must be received by 5:00 PM, 14 September 2018. Applications may be submitted by email to or by mail to:

Special Collections, Updike Prize
Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI, 02903

Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony in the autumn. Stay updated about the event through the library's online calendar.

For more information, contact the Special Collections Librarian at the Providence Public Library.

Examples of Type Specimens

(The examples provided here are not intended as templates. Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate their own creativity in designing a specimen that best displays their typeface.)

A special thanks to our sponsors for the prize, Paperworks.